UK Recruiting

Top point guard recruit changes his plans. ‘Kentucky is in a very, very good spot.’

The recruitment of five-star point guard Devin Askew took another turn Wednesday, and Kentucky appears to be in fine shape with his college commitment just weeks away.

Rivals.com national analyst Corey Evans was first to report that Askew — a 6-foot-3 prospect from California — had canceled his previously planned official visit to Villanova set for next weekend. Instead, the highly touted point guard will visit UK on those dates.

Askew will also take an unofficial visit to Arizona this weekend and plans to be at Memphis for that program’s “Madness” festivities Oct. 3, one day before he comes to Lexington for what is likely to be the final official visit of his recruitment.

The program hit hardest by this week’s change of plans was Villanova, which recently was seen as one of the front-runners in the recruitment. With Askew planning to announce a college commitment after next month’s USA Basketball training camp, it means Villanova won’t get him on campus before that decision.

“It’s going to be hard to commit to a program that you’ve never been to,” Evans told the Herald-Leader on Wednesday. “The Askews are well-thought-out people, so that chances of committing to a school they’ve never been to — that doesn’t look to good for Villanova.”

Askew had previously planned to visit UK sometime in the next few weeks anyway, but canceling the Villanova trip in exchange for a full-length, official visit to Lexington is a positive sign for the Wildcats.

John Calipari recently visited Askew in California, and UK assistant coach Joel Justus was in to see him Tuesday, the day before he switched around his visit plans.

Earlier this month, Evans logged a Future Cast prediction in favor of Kentucky for Askew. Other Crystal Ball predictions have gone in favor of Louisville, but Evans told the Herald-Leader he’s sticking with the Wildcats.

“I’m not budging,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “I know I’m a little different, and everyone else thinks it’s Louisville. Not that I’m slighting Louisville’s chances whatsoever — or Memphis chances, or Arizona’s chances — but I think Kentucky is in a very, very good spot.

“They have a major hole to fill at the point guard position, and I think that’s something that interests Devin, especially being good friends with Terrence Clarke and BJ Boston. I think those two guys might have even done a better job than Cal and those guys. It’s not a done deal by any means, but I do like where Kentucky is right now with the momentum in their favor.”

Evans acknowledged that U of L is still in a strong spot in Askew’s recruitment and won’t be letting up between now and his decision next month. Chris Mack was in California for another visit earlier this week, and Louisville was the first program to host Askew for an official visit. The Cards, like the Cats, also have a point guard hole to fill with this 2020 class.

Kentucky projects to have a wealth of talent around whoever does play the point guard spot next season. Clarke and Boston, two early commitments, are both shooting guards and among the nation’s best scoring prospects. UK will also bring in four-star wing Cam’Ron Fletcher and should return a few talented guards and wings from this season’s team.

Current point guards Ashton Hagans and Tyrese Maxey are both projected as 2020 NBA Draft picks. Immanuel Quickley could return for a third year and take over some of those point guard duties, but Calipari clearly wants one more dynamic player at the position.

Askew, who turns 18 years old next July, remains UK’s best bet, even though he’s still technically in the 2021 class.

He told Rivals.com earlier this week that his intention is to stay in 2021 — where Rivals ranks him as the No. 9 overall player — but the timing of his college decision and the fact that his top finalists will have a need for a point guard next season suggests he could still end up in the 2020 class. And that might be the most likely scenario.

“That’s a very good read,” Evans said. “I think Devin is only a course or two from being fully qualified as a 2020 guy. But, as I said, Devin and his family are very thought-out and meticulous with their plans. And if they don’t think he’s ready for high-major basketball at a place like Kentucky or Louisville or wherever it is, then they won’t do it. Which you have to respect, because it’s all about the long term.

“But when a blue blood like Kentucky and a prestigious program like Louisville — or Arizona or Memphis — has a hole to fill at the point guard position, and they’re offering you the ball and a chance to play a lot of minutes, right away, as a freshman — next fall, compared to playing in high school — that’s hard to decline, for sure.”

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Ben Roberts covers UK basketball, football and other sports for the Lexington Herald-Leader and has specialized in UK basketball recruiting for the past several years. He also maintains the Next Cats recruiting blog, which features the latest news on the Wildcats’ recruiting efforts.
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